Enchantment of the Crone

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In December of 2017, I went on a women’s retreat organized by The Penchant Group, a creative collective founded by Bessie Senette. On the retreat, each woman was free to choose their focus, whether on writing or another art form. In a lovely cabin in the woods of Chicot State Park, we spent time alone with our work. We communed when we ate meals or after meals as we sat by a roaring fire. I had been experiencing a nearly four-year-long depression, triggered by my mother’s death, with some high points that worked to pull me through. This nutritive gathering was a balm to my heart and soul.
`
It actually had snowed in Louisiana that weekend. On one of the full days there, a poem burst through me as I looked out the floor-to-ceiling windows onto the snowy scene outdoors. I read the poem to the group. They appreciated it and said it was strong. Later, when I returned home, I revised it several times. I absolutely hated the revisions and went back to the first draft. That poem became the first poem written for Crone.
`
When I was hospitalized in March 2018 for suicidal depression, someone in the hospital, when they learned that I was a writer with two published books, asked me if I was going to keep writing. I was on the mend as a new dosage of antidepressant took root. I answered, “Yes, of course.” I had started a creative project. It was a nebulous vision but something was ahead of me.
`
Shortly after I got out of the hospital, I received an email from Annie Pluto, asking if I had a manuscript of 40 to 50 pages. I was wowed to be asked but I did not have a manuscript of that length or one that was ready. I had a loose group of sketched-out poems that I was working and reworking without a clear vision of what it would be. The working title was Crone. I might have had 15 to 20 poems that needed a lot of attention. I asked Annie if I could be given some time to work. She said to take four months.
`
I was driven. I was mad with poetry. I finished the manuscript in two weeks!
`
I have to give credit to my therapist, J.S., who I started seeing after my release from the hospital. Weekly sessions and full disclosure to her pulled me together. Also, my nurse practitioner, who I’ve seen for a decade, worked fiercely to see me well. The intense talk therapy helped. I really scored with J.S. She’s professional, compassionate, intuitive, and agrees with me politically if that matters. (I think it does!) I’ve spent 30 years trying and failing at talk therapy with less than competent therapists and my hopes had dwindled that anyone could help me in that way, but I was wrong. I still see J.S. biweekly and I don’t foresee stopping. She’s really proud of me and owns my first two books. She has an affinity for poetry, as well. That helps. She understands creatives like me.
`
Nixes Mate Books only solicits manuscripts. They are not open to unsolicited manuscripts. I finalized Crone, burnishing it to wholeness. When I sent it to Annie, she read it carefully, spent time with it, and let it resonate. She said yes to it. This achievement was a victory of life over death for me. The same year I was hospitalized for what I believed and wanted to be the end of my life, I was able to pull out a book from my psyche that I am so proud of and in love with.
`
From the first poem written in December to the last edits prior to going into book design, it might have been four months. Then a few weeks after the acceptance, the contract was signed and the work shifted to book design by Michael McInnis. Michael has been wonderful to work with and his design work is impeccable. I haven’t spent time working with Philip Borenstein, but I’m indebted to him as well as a publisher of Nixes Mate Books.
`
Crone is like no other work I have created. It came out in a fury. It came out after a suicidal depression. It was my hands, neck, shoulders, back, butt and thighs putting in the work at a desk. Hours and days and weeks of intuiting the narrative, intuiting the magic and myth, intuiting voices of the Crone and the Maiden.
`
We have something very special in store for you. The work isn’t confessional. It’s myth and magic. It’s a poet seeing outward and into the ether. It’s a long poem, meant to be read as narrative but experimental in form and subject. It’s an exploration of mystical womanhood, and the natural and supernatural worlds.
`
I hope you will read Crone. It’s available now via Amazon and soon directly through Nixes Mate Books and me. It’s not a book for the faint of heart. It saved my life. I pray it will keep in you for the ages.
`Clare L. Martin
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2017: My Writing Life in Review

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In January of 2017, I facilitated “Writing Hope” with women being assisted to transition from homelessness by Acadiana Outreach, as six-week poetry writing workshop and reading of the women’s work at Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church.

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My second full-length poetry collection, Seek the Holy Dark, was released at The Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference (AWP) in Washington D.C. I read with other Yellow Flag Press poets, and poets affiliated with Gigantic Sequins Press and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette at George Washington University Textile Museum. I belatedly celebrated my daughter’s 21st birthday in D.C. with her!

March was the Lafayette book release of Seek the Holy Dark at Reve Coffee Roasters. Friends far and near came and it was wonderful.  As part of the promotion of the book’s release, I was interviewed on KRVS by Judith Meriwether and an article appeared locally in The Independent.

In April, I read at the Maple Leaf Bar. Such a wonderful thing to connect more deeply with poet-friends in NOLA in 2017.  Also, in April I was invited to read at the State Library by Poet Laureate Peter Cooley.

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Later in the month, I organized a reading with Jack Bedell and Darrell Bourque (current and former Poet Laureates, respectively) at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard Art Museum, to celebrate Yellow Flag Press’s Louisiana Cajun and Creole Series designees, as the three of us are.

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Mid-April, I started a new job with Childress Communications as a content writer and ghostwriter! I also joined Connections Professional Networking and PRAL Acadiana to help my friend-boss, Dr. Cynthia Childress grow her firm.

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In June, I was a featured poet at the Latter Library in New Orleans, thanks to poet Gina Ferrara. Always love my traveling Fairy Godmother, Bessie Senette, who is a love whirlwind in my life and shared so much of this exciting year with me.
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October marked the occasion of the Louisiana Book Festival at which I was a featured author. As a panelist, I read with other women poets of Louisiana, selected by Current Poet Laureate, Jack Bedell.

November was the 10th Annual Festival of Words, which was heartily celebrated in Grand Coteau.

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In December, I attended the Penchant Group’s first women’s’ writing retreat at the cabin in the woods (a wonderful spot at Chicot State Park, LA). It snowed!!

I edited and published three issues of MockingHeart Review, and interviewed several MHR poets (as many as I could muster).

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I also organized, with musician and teacher, Esther Tyree, a Hurricane Harvey fundraiser at Artmosphere. Highlights continued with readings around Acadiana with dear poet friends.

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Whew! Despite boughts of severe depression and financial trauma, I am so proud to say that I am sharing my gifts with the world.

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Clare L. Martin’s second collection of poetry, Seek the Holy Dark, is the 2017 selection of the Louisiana Cajun and Creole Series by Yellow Flag Press. Her acclaimed debut collection of poetry, Eating the Heart First, was published by Press 53. Martin’s poetry has appeared in Thrush Poetry Journal, Poets and Artists, and Louisiana Literature, among others. She founded and edits MockingHeart Review.

 

Diane Moore reviews “Seek the Holy Dark”

Poet and author, Diane Moore, reviews Seek the Holy Dark, available from Yellow Flag Press. Thank you, Diane, for your deep reading and generosity of heart.

SEEKING THE HOLY DARK

Seek the Holy Dark is the 2017 selection of the Louisiana Series of Cajun and Creole Poetry by Yellow Flag Press.

Seek the Holy Dark is now available. Trade paperback, 66 pages, only $10.  To order click here.

For signed copies contact Clare. $10 plus $3 shipping and handling. Paypal accepted. paypal.me/clarelmartin Please note your mailing address for book shipment.

The Heart’s Progress

We’ve had a great trial to endure over the past eight weeks. I worried that there would be a cloud over Saturday night’s celebratory event for Seek the Holy Dark. There wasn’t. Everything went off without a hitch. We had a great crowd of friends who came to celebrate with us. Friends came from New Orleans, Lake Charles, and Houston, as well as Lafayette and Grand Coteau. I felt such enormous love and support. A young couple came who I didn’t know. They had heard the radio interview and didn’t want to miss the reading. That sent me swooning. They were so sweet.
*
I am so very fortunate to have the friends and family I do. While in many ways I have extraordinary strengths, I really am vulnerable to stress. I am blessed to have protectors. I am humbled by this. I have friends and family who see when I am fading out and give me the energy to help me come back to life. I am brought to tears with gratitude for Bessie Senette for being the woman she is and loving me so dearly. I was thrilled that my dear husband and beautiful daughter came to the book release event. My husband was injured last week and he was going to stay at home and rest. When I saw him come through the door I was ecstatic. At dinner afterward, Debra McDonald Bailey said she was ready for my third book. I need a minute to catch my breath!
*
All day Sunday, I felt hungover. It wasn’t because I drank. The anticipation of and the event itself took a lot out of me. Sunday morning, Bessie said she felt like she had been struck by lightning. That is how I felt, too. It was a great night, no doubt, but the buildup of excitement and then the culmination draws on your reserves. I slept off and on most of Sunday, thus I am awake at 1 am on Monday. I’m having coffee, too. I need some quiet hours to continue to recover and process all that is in my heart. Staying in the moment is the only way I can live with peace. Thank God!
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I look forward to these wee hours in solitude. My heart is full and I am glad. Thank you to all who came to be with me in the special moment. I love you all.
A big THANK YOU to Rêve Coffee Roasters. We were so thrilled to be there Saturday.

2017 Events

 

March
Seek the Holy Dark Book Release Party/Poetry Reading
March 18th ~ 6-8 pm
Rêve Coffee Roasters
200 Jefferson Street, Lafayette, Louisiana
Free and open to the public. Complimentary wine to guests 21 and over. Food and beverages available for purchase.

Lyrically Inclined
Tuesday, March 21st 6:30 pm
Workshop and Poetry Reading with Clare L. Martin
Black Cafe
518 S Pierce St #100, Lafayette, LA 70501

Your Life, Your Stories: Life-Writing Workshops with Clare L. Martin
Saturday, March 25 at 2 PM – 4 PM
@ The Alleyway House,
122 E Bridge St Breaux Bridge, LA 70517

April

Maple Lear Bar- Everette C. Maddox Commemorative Reading Series
Sunday, April 2nd, 3:00 pm
Maple Leaf Bar
8316 Oak St
New Orleans, LA 70118

Louisiana Series of Cajun and Creole Poetry / La Série de Louisiane de Poésie des Acadiens et Créoles (reading with Darrell Bourque and Jack Bedell)
Saturday, April 15th, 2-4 pm
Hilliard University Art Museum
710 East St. Mary Boulevard
Lafayette, LA 70503

Your Life, Your Stories: Life-Writing Workshops with Clare L. Martin
Saturday, April 22 at 2 – 4 pm
@ The Alleyway House,
122 E Bridge St Breaux Bridge, LA 70517

June

Featured Poet at The Poetry Buffet
Saturday, June 3rd, 2 pm
Latter Branch Public Library, 5120 St Charles Ave
New Orleans, LA

September

Artwalk Reading with Jane V. Blunschi:
Saturday, September 9th – 6-8 pm
James Devin Moncus Theater
Acadiana Center for the Arts
http://acadianacenterforthearts.org/
101 W. Vermilion St.
Lafayette, LA 70501
337.233.7060

October

Louisiana Book Festival

More dates are being arranged.

To book Clare for a workshop, poetry reading or book-signing:
martin.clarel@gmail.com
or (337) 962-5886

“The Hanging Woman” excerpt from “Seek the Holy Dark”

The Hanging Woman

 

breathes desert into her throat
Golgotha-naked

rapacious sun
spear opens rib

the most egregious of transgressions
lust inside/out

lungs vigilant flag
serpentine intestine

nailed-out muscles
Heaven’s jaw shuts

borne upon the cross
we cannot willfully die

the women tear at their smocks
sun goes

to terminal moonrise
burnt to bone

new meanings of the body impaled;

all sensation thrust
from pleasured skin

blade to stone
stone to bone

bone to blood night
incarnated, excarnated.

 

 

© 2017 Clare L. Martin

Collected in Seek the Holy Dark by Clare L. Martin, forthcoming from Yellow Flag Press, 2017 Pre-orders are now available. $10.

War Footing

 

 

 

War Footing
 

Blue and rain-days long.
The leaking roof. Rats in the attic.
We are sodden, shuttered;
motionless in our apathy.
How do we become more than we are?
There is no palpable answer.
Only wind will tell us, in finality.
Now, we smoke cigarettes,
eat crumbs gathered
in the bottom of plastic bags,
scrape our palms for coins.
I have fallen in the trap of my eyes again.
It is winter and we fail in all our doings.
Dark mornings, we turn cold,
stepping onto the floor.
Naked into the bath.
Hot water to bring us from death.
Always evoked of our tears—mad
laughter as we rail at our leaders,
who only speak a barrage of sick
glory-obsessions. Bombs drop by ten o’clock.
We live radiated, aglow with grief.
We are on a war footing.
Every moment escalates.
I have taken your face out of memory.
I have replaced you
with a mushroom cloud, for solace.

 

 

 

 

©2016 Clare L. Martin

“You need to write another damn book!”

I am thrilled to announce that Yellow Flag Press will publish Seek the Holy Dark as the 2017 selection of The Louisiana Series of Cajun and Creole Poetry. Great thanks to J. Bruce Fuller for this honor. Yellow Flag Press is a Louisiana-born publishing house that is growing its national presence. I have had a long relationship with it, and I can’t think of any other affiliation that would make me as happy.

 

A little backstory:

 

For a long period of time since my mother’s death in May of 2014, I felt aimless. I was writing, but I did not have a meaningful writing project in front of me to keep me focused on the bigger picture of my Writing Life. I had material for a new manuscript, tentatively titled “Broken Jesus,” that I began to assemble after Eating the Heart First was published. Over the course of a couple of years, I abandoned hope for it and just kept writing new.

 

Several months ago, while having coffee with The Bayou Mystic, Bessie Senette, I expressed my feelings of a lack of purpose beyond my personal responsibilities and our writing group’s objectives. She knew that I had relinquished my roles in many of the projects I had been involved with before my mother’s death. She also knew that was very hard for me, because of my giving and ambitious nature. The deep dissatisfaction I had been living with was causing depression beyond normal grief.

 

Bessie listened as I shared my feelings. After a silence, Bessie stood, pointed her finger between my eyes, and said, “You need to write another damn book!” As soon as she said it, I was taken aback. I went home with a charge of energy to do exactly what she said to do. I got to work with real determination.

 

In December 2015, in a casual conversation, I brought up the work I was doing to J. Bruce Fuller at a writing event we were attending in Arnaudville, LA. He offered to read the manuscript. When I sent it, I had a sense that if I had to face a “no” I would reluctantly consider other options. Honestly, from that moment in Arnaudville when the opportunity opened, I desired for Seek the Holy Dark to be a YFP book.  I have always had great faith in J Bruce’s integrity and the good health of his press.

 

[Surprisingly, in less than three days of receiving the publishing news, the cover art was selected and rights acquired. That is another story that involves my dear Bessie!!]

 

I am thrilled, ready, excited, and focused to bring this new work to the world. I again express thanks to J Bruce Fuller and Yellow Flag Press for this amazing opportunity.

 

And great thanks to Bessie for seeing my need and calling forth my energy to fulfill it.

 

More soon…

 

First Issue of MockingHeart Review

Below is the text of my welcome note to readers of MockingHeart Review. This venture began three months ago. On January 1, the inaugural issue was released. It has been pure pleasure to work with the poets within, and I look forward to a promising future for this poetry magazine. Please spend some time with its pages. I think you will be happy that you did.

Direct link to the magazine is http://mockingheartreview.com  Please bookmark it, or follow via the buttons on the site.

The 39 poets on these pages are part of an ever-widening circle of humans who seek meaning and convey their discoveries with the world. Not only do they do that, but they do it in such a way that excites the intellect and aesthetic senses. Above all, they stir the heart, that part of us that is more than muscle pumping blood, but in my ardent belief is the seat of knowledge.

In this issue, we have traversed the globe—we begin with a small drop of Louisiana poets, who welcome me in poetry-communion, and the word-current ripples to Turkey, New Zealand, Italy, and all across the USA. We have poets who are publishing for the very first time alongside poets who have well-established publishing histories. In each case, the poems on these pages touched me in some way that necessitated my inclusion of them in this first, grand issue. Future issues will not be as large (this one is a behemoth), but I trust that there is something for every reader in this Inaugural Issue.

My earnest hope for MockingHeart Review is that it will in some way strengthen relationships between poets and readers across the globe. I hope we, with our beloved readers, will find common humanity in the pages of this humble online magazine.

I feel very honored to have spent time with these poems and have a great feeling about the reception we will have.

Welcome.

Clare L. Martin
Youngsville, Louisiana
January 1, 2016